10 June 2013. Add comments on Michael Hayden and Edward
9 June 2013
We Steal Secrets Review
Alex Gibney's and Alexis Bloom's We Steal Secrets: The Story of
WikiLeaks is available for viewing on iTunes for $14.95 (this is advertised
now on newpaper ads for theater showing of the documentary). We viewed it
last night, about half at regular speed, pleasurably, the rest fast-fowarded,
sickeningly. This is a juxtaposition of two films, one excellent and truthful,
one vulgar and dissimulative.
The first film shows Assange and colleagues doing what they became world
famous for: publishing material released by supremely courageous Bradley
Manning. This is compelling, impressive and informative -- photos and film
we had not seen before -- despite annoying padding with trite graphics and
Assange is spell-binding, supported by appearances by others who bravely,
or foolishly, joined his valiant endeavor to challenge authority with its
own horrid evidence. This portion of the film should be seen for what WikiLeaks,
Assange and Manning deserve to be forever honored, rewarded, freed from official
approbation and hounding, handsomely endowed for life.
The second film is excreable, inexcusable smearing of WikiLeaks, Assange
and Manning. Something appears to have deranged Gibney (aided by aggrieved
former Assange beneficiaries), probably the religious torment of producing
a commercial film with its obligatory moralism in favor of established
authority's shaping of public acceptance of those in power (at worst, they
were threatened and bribed by the natsec machine).
Tormented by how to produce this hired and tired hatchet job while worrying
about the loss of reputation for previous highly-praised true documentaries
on the Catholic Church, Eliot Spitzer, Enron and more.
Former Assange supporters equally tormented by how to convincingly account
for change of heart from warm to cold, change of mind from belief to doubt,
change of fortune upward, downward, stigmatized, indebted, change of forgiveable
innocence to amply-deserved guilt, thence into cynically manipulated secret
grand juries and coerced forever by court-sealed files.
Adrian Lamo's performance provides a starlet-level example of simulated torment
wracking a participant transfixed by inchoate understanding of good and evil,
adrift morally, faux-apologetic and highly righteous, now locked in a lifetime
bear hug with Manning, his all-too-trusting, self-doubting superior.
The odious Lamo hypnotist, in the film righteousness-flaunting Timothy Webster,
deserves boiling in oil. The face of fear of authority engendered by induction
into secretkeeping hell on earth exemplified by fear-mongering authoritarian,
Michael Hayden, ex-CIA and NSA head, film source of
"we steal secrets," now shilling for private spying contractors. Hayden is
the Stephen Colbert of the film, a ridiculous cariacature of military
"intelligence" beguiling gullible elected officials "read into" secretkeeeping
to exclude the citizenry in disguise of complicit "oversight," as with film
directors. Hayden's masterful spyjinks hoodwinks media (on Fox News damning
heroic contractor Edward Snowden), overseers, citizenry and Gibney-Bloom
as Webster hi-jacked Lamo. As self-lampooning military justice in Manning's
trial cariacatures justice by "in camera" film-editing manipulation.
Charitably, Gibney and Bloom could be seen as making an obviously bifurcative
good-shit-film to send a signal of dissent: "Don't believe this crassly Hollywood
production, we did it for the money. Forgive us our sin, dear paying viewers,
we whored clothed in WikiLeaks, Assange and Manning raiments. We offer this
movie-church-preach scripted contrition."
Genuine confession and penance is due, Alex and Alexis, or your reputation
is threatened, documentary subjects will want nothing to do with you, instead,
like us, warn subjects to expect stagecrafted smear, deception and betrayal.
That includes you, Adrian, Timothy and Michael, and, not least, former Assange
supporters and current exploiters.
Coda: Documentaries are moralistic by design, preacherly and mediac, and
this accounts for their popularity -- they deliciously shift blame to obvious
targets to relieve us of unbearable shame and weakness. Not a few documentarians,
emulating preachers and media, have become wealthy playing our instrument
of desire for diversion and illusory vicarious power. There is no real
distinction among commercially-driven documentaries, religion and media.
Does this include WikiLeaks and Assange? Manning, and now Snowden, is the
answer we need to hark.